Guide service seeks Camp Hale expansion |

Guide service seeks Camp Hale expansion

Cliff Thompson

The renewal, now under consideration by the U.S Forest Service – which is seeking public comment – seeks to increase the number of those tours, as is typical in a five-year permit renewal, said Dave Van Norman, assistant district ranger for the Holy Cross Ranger District of the White River National Forest.

The biggest increase sought by the outfitter is 9,000 additional snowmobile days at Camp Hale, where it now has a snowmobile operation with 1,000 days. Nova Guides wants shift the focus of its snowmobile business from Tigiwon Road just south of Minturn to Camp Hale between Red Cliff and Leadville. It wants to decrease trips at Tigiwon by 1,900, which would reduce the number of trips there to 6,500, the permit states.

The new use at Camp Hale, when spread out over the 125 day winter season will amount to about 80 more people per day at Camp Hale, said Van Norman.

“They’re looking ahead five or 10 years,” he said.

Nova Guides co-owner Greg Caretto said customers have been requesting more half-day snowmobile trips and half-day trips with lunch, and Camp Hale’s terrain fills that need.

“Over the last few years we’ve had a lot of requests for use there” he said. “The awareness of what is available has increased too. Their was a moratorium on increasing the use of the area and we could not increase use. Under the new forest plan they’re taking another look.”

Van Norman said that moratorium on changing permits was in place for the last five years pending approval of the new forest plan.

Two years ago Nova began offering dog sled tours at Camp Hale as well. Now the operator has 8,400 snowmobile/snowcat tours at Tigiwon Road; 1,000 snowmobile/snowcat/dogsled tours at Camp Hale; 20 fishing days; 2,000 summer jeep tours (on several different forest roads); 1,000 all-terrain vehicle days and 150 mountain bike tours.

The new request seeks to increase all categories with the exception of the Tigiwon area where a decrease of 1,900 has been proposed.

The new requests: 10,000 snowmobile/snowcat/dogsled days at Camp Hale; 100 fishing days; 4,000 jeep tour days; 4,000 all-terrain vehicle days; and 1,000 mountain bike tours.

Excluding Vail Resorts, Nova Guides is the largest permit holder on the White River National Forest. It pays 3 percent of its gross revenue to the Forest Service in return for its special use permit, Van Norman said.

To date the Forest Service has received eight letters about the proposed permit renewal, Van Norman said. Some of the letter writers have expressed concern about the increased use, possible air pollution and potential impacts on wildlife, he said.

Once the analysis and public comments are received, he said, the Forest Service will either accept, modify the request or not accept the proposed increase. A decision is expected by the beginning of the winter 2004-2005, he said.

Cliff Thompson can be reached via e-mail at: or by calling 949-0555 ext. 450.

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